This Particular and Peculiar Sense of Not Being~

There is a particular and peculiar loneliness of the sort that cannot be imagined for its’ overwhelming and enveloping totality, that strikes me when I am in a crowded room with those who are familiar to me or not.  It’s a loneliness whose depth is equal to the surge of desire I would feel as I rose on my tiptoes to meet Chuck’s lips in a kiss.  It is a loneliness that hits like a lightning bolt out of the stormy sky, with thunder rolling in dark tones onwards and onwards and onwards again until I finally have no sense of self or place as it consumes me into it.

This particular and peculiar loneliness does not confine itself or define itself by my circumstances of living on the road, though I can and will admit that I am so much out of my element in the outdoors that I find myself ruminating on the sheer oddity of sitting in my trailer each night, or walking about in the darkness of evening, contemplating what happened to my life.  It is as if I came from outer space and all that was familiar to me is gone, and nothing familiar is to be found:  my environs, language, people, my own identity…I gaze upon it all with a wrinkled brow, attempting to understand what cannot be understood because there is no way to translate any of it.

The same feelings and emotions run rampantly through me as I stay with friends and family.  Not because of a lack on their part, ever.  It is simply because, at some point I must still close a door and find my pajamas and wash my face and busy myself until exhaustion overtakes me and I turn out the lights of wherever I am, and put my head upon Chuck’s pillow and my hand on his flag that rests at the head of whatever bed I lay upon…and sleep the sleep of a dead man who wakes frequently from that sleep to toss and turn.

Here’s the thing:  there are many ways to keep busy during a day, but night will invariably arrive, and, in sleep, my body knows.  My mind, that part that lurks behind the daily activity..my mind knows his absence.  My heart that aches through the day but strives to keep balanced in spite of the ache…my heart knows his absence.  And my soul…my soul that knew his soul and cannot be separated from his soul…my soul recognizes his absence, and my mind and my heart and my soul feel his absence more clearly in the evening hours and into and through the night, and I ache. Oh, how I ache…

I was a woman who was energized in a social situation.  I always knew what to say and I loved being in a crowd of those I knew and I was good at it, and now that woman is gone and I feel her absence just as strongly and I feel awkward and mostly I don’t know what to say to anyone because mostly what I want to say is that I don’t know how to be here and I feel out of place and I don’t know how to find my place and I end up feeling rude and socially inept and I want to say it’s loneliness please forgive me I don’t know how to be anymore!

So…mostly I’m silent and my mind is millions of miles away, somewhere and everywhere in the past, remembering and missing and wondering at how it is possible to feel all of this, yet be so numb.  How it is possible to face one more day and one more night and repeat those days and nights constantly and continually while this loneliness of forever beats in me instead of my heart?

I am lonely.  Chuck is missing from me, and I am missing from myself~

Our Death Valley Dance~

The Death Valley dance.

I know-it sounds so theatrical, doesn’t it?  To call it such, I mean.  I only named it that in hindsight. All I knew on that February day in 2013 was that this was a moment to remember, as Chuck and I remembered so many of our times together. We knew what was important in life. We grasped that life was impermanent and it needed to be grabbed and appreciated and loved and marked in that spot in our hearts that remembered such moments.

Nothing but wide-open road in front of us, there in Death Valley. We’d had this place on our go-to list, and this was our last evening here.  Our day had been spent mostly driving through the various canyons because Chuck wasn’t feeling well-his strength was minimal and he was in pain. We thought it was the die-off from a fungal infection. We thought it was a pinched nerve.  So we moved more slowly that day, and I took the wheel.

But, as I steered the car over the road, looking at the changing colors of the rocks around me, I knew that here was a moment that we needed to imprint upon our hearts. Something in my heart told me to mark this memory deep into my bones, so I maneuvered the car to the dirt on the side of the road and said let’s dance.  We loved to slow dance, and Chuck was a master at it.  Today, he wasn’t as sure of his footing on the rutted dirt of the roadside, but I said let’s try.  And he gamely smiled at me and stepped out of the car.

It was that most beautiful part of the evening that the Scots call the gloaming, when the day is done but right before night sets in and it was quiet, with no traffic from any direction.  We were the only humans on the planet at that moment, and the rocks glowed golden from the dying sun’s last breath. Silence surrounded us as I met him in front of our red Ford Escape and the strains of You’re My Inspiration by Chicago, wafted from the IPOD I’d plugged into the radio.   Chuck put his right arm around me and clasped my right hand in his left, wrapping his fingers lightly around mine.  In spite of everything, his body was strong against me and that strength flowed from him to me and back again, and all the Love in the world between us simmered and shone.

I knew something was wrong with him.  He did too.  Maybe we both wondered if his cancer had returned, but were afraid to voice the thought aloud.  I don’t know.  I just know, at that moment in time, with that particular tune playing, my heart called for me to remember this moment.

So there, on the side of the road, in the setting sun… there in Death Valley, we danced our last dance.

It was nothin’ but love~

 

What Has Changed. Besides Everything…

It hit me this morning as I drove the back roads of south Jersey and passed a tree whose leaves were changing colors in preparation for the Fall.

Each time the seasons have changed since Chuck’s death, it takes my breath away.  Not for the beauty of them, which I always used to appreciate, but because…the season is changing again.  As they’ve changed 14 times in these 3 1/2 years since his death.

Each season takes me further away from his life, from our lives together.  And, yes, it hitches my breath each time I acknowledge this.  And it hurts my heart.

Many years ago, for his birthday, I surprised him with a trip to the Poconos.  And yes, we stayed in one of the cheesy hotels with a heart-shaped tub.  We loved it.  Fall colors popped all around us, because Chuck’s birthday is in October.

On our way back home again, we stopped at a roadside park for lunch.  There was a river there, with trees draping their leaves over the water.

It was beautiful.  Now, I can barely bear to see the leaves turn.

Everything changes when your person dies.  The meaning of everything changes when your person dies.   What once had color is now bland.  The flavor and flow of daily life, of days becoming weeks and months and years, changes.  There is an absence of color.

I realize, of course, that I don’t write for every widow and widower.  I can only speak of my own experience.

My heart sang with Chuck’s for our 24 years, and my world was filled with color and beauty.  If there were a switch I could find to turn everything back on, I would, and I’d look at the trees outside and see what color feels like again and I’d listen to the fallen leaves rustle under my feet, and I’d feel everything down to the soles of my soul.

I just don’t fucking know how to change this everything’s changed world of mine~

 

Please Refrain~

*The views expressed herein reflect only my views and not that of the management.  They do not identify any one person but are meant to educate those who care to be educated*

We’re  a society that must, at all times, be positive.  We must be upbeat and look to the future with hope.  Anything less is unacceptable.  Right?

What is the proper response when someone tells me you must be positive look on the bright side be grateful?  As this is being said to me, my husband’s cremains are hanging in a small orb around my neck and his wedding ring is on my finger.  On the back of my neck is a tattoo in his memory.  Another one decorates the inside of my left wrist, where his first cancer showed itself.

Do you know that when you tell me these things it negates my grief?  It negates a very real human experience that must be gone through to get through.  And it doesn’t help in the least for me to hear that because what I’m hearing you say is that I must not grieve.  Thankfully, I have the confidence now to realize that what you are actually saying is that you are the one with the problem, that you are ill-equipped to deal with any depth of feeling other than, you know, the good stuff.

It isn’t a matter of being positive any more than it is a matter of being negative.  I don’t place judgements on myself or my grief and I request that you refrain also.  Grief is grief and it is normal and natural and there is no time limit for it. We each grieve our particular relationship and we grieve it as we lived the relationship.

This is not only about me, dear readers.  This is about me and everyone else who grieves.  You don’t need to fix this with empty words.  You can’t fix this with words or anything else.  Grief is an internal unweaving and unraveling and untangling of life as it has been.

But you can sit with.  You can offer a hug.  You can listen.  You can ask questions about the one who died and not be fearful of causing tears.  Sit with the tears, sit with love and receive with love.

This is what you can do.

Thank you.

 

This Baseline~

It’s a constant dichotomy, this life without Chuck.

The promise (if that is the right way to describe it) that we all hear, after going through a death or traumatic event (sometimes they are one and the same), is about finding that new normal.

This so-called new normal of mine, since April 21, 2013, is a life lived without Chuck.  Which is emotionally and physically exhausting, no matter which way I try to navigate it.  Practical, day to day, living, is a crap shoot.  Emotions…well, life has to be lived, and shit has to get done, so I can’t lie abed all day, I can’t curl up in a fetal position in the corner, so I have to get up and do the living thing.

In these 3 years and 4 months since Chuck died, I’ve been laying a foundation for the next part of my life;  I’ve been writing my first book and putting together my first public presentation on this Odyssey of Love, and thinking. thinking, thinking, constantly, and working every day, creating workshops, networking, reaching out in every way I can to those around me.

And I’m tired.  Bone  tired.  Soul tired.  Exhausted.  Today I realized that my body is strung as tightly as a rubber band right before it snaps.  My nerves are humming along the surface of my skin.  My heart is racing.  I must consciously remind myself to take a breath.  There is a consistent, low-grade itching all over my body.  My mind feels as tightly wound as my body and all I want to do is run shrieking into whatever oblivion I can find.

I can’t do this anymore.  And yet, this is what I have, what I am, where I am, so I must.

So I use my homeopathic remedies for grief and trauma.  Star of Bethlehem.  Ignatia Amara.  Rescue Remedy.  Relaxation essential oil on my pulse points and in a mister that shoots the scent into this room where I sit.

What do you do when you can’t stand the silence and the alone-ness and the missing-ness any longer, but you have to stand it because this is it?  This is life now, simply stated.  Chuck will always be dead, for the rest of my life.

In order to create this part of my life that will bring me into a semblance of financial security, I have to project, in some measure, into the future.  A future I don’t want to consider because it is a future without him.  But I have to consider that future, practically thinking, no matter what I feel at any given moment.

Doing so hitches my breath and causes anxiety to rise in frantic measures to every nerve ending.  It is as if flood waters are pouring through a breached wall.

I allow some of this to happen;  I know the futility of trying to hold it back.  But, at the same time, how much do I allow and how much control do I have with it and over it?

Rhetorical questions, all.   I do what I can to manage it all, but I know it’s a temporary fix.  I’ve done counseling, one on one, and in a group.  I’ve gone through various trauma modalities, and they have made a difference.  But none of it can remove what this new normal is, what it will be for the time I have left living;  Chuck is dead and life without him is empty.

And, honestly, none of this is a plea for sympathy.   I’ll still do whatever needs to be done to create some semblance of a life for the rest of my life.  Nor is this a pity party.  It is, simply, an acknowledgement from me that this life of widowhood is the most difficult, unbearable, impossible, thing I’ve ever tried to do and my heart hurts.  Desperately.

I miss my husband.  I miss Chuck.  The space next to me, where he stood for 24 years, is empty.  And I cannot convey to you in any real way what it feels like, what this life feels like, without him.  It is silence and it is loneliness and it is emptiness, no matter how I strive to change it or accept it or balance it.  It is as if I’m blindly throwing darts at an unseen dart board, with no idea of where or how they land.

That’s all.

 

 

Ignorance Gives Me Writing Material~

A huge shout out to a person no longer in my life, and her partner, for providing material for this blog.

This topic has only arisen a couple of times since I began my Odyssey of Love, and I addressed it then, and will now.  Possibly laying it to rest, now and forever.  Amen.

*I do not write this with angst.  I simply wish to address the issue*

Recently, this person accused me of driving all around the country as if I am on vacation.

Webster’s Dictionary defines vacation as a period spent away from home or business in travel or amusement.

First of all…sigh….

Second of all…sigh followed by raised eyebrow as if to say seriously?

So…I haven’t had a sticks and bricks home since May 29, 2009 when Chuck and I sold it and went on the road together.  My home, now, and since October 2013 has been my T@b trailer.   My home on the road, as it were.

And this is for amusement…how?  Wow.  If this particular male personage defines vacation by what I’m doing,  then thank you very much but I’ll pass on going on one with you!  My idea of a vacation is more along the lines of a white sand beach in a warm climate, on a very comfy lounger, with a seriously good book, sipping non-alcoholic but delicious drinks with umbrellas in them.  It most definitely is not my husband’s cremains sitting on the passenger seat next to me.  With the flag from his memorial service next to his cremains.  untitledbbbLiving in a trailer, driving headlong into grief on a continual basis, but meeting up with so much love from those I meet on the road *except from you.  No love from you.  And, apparently, not even a wisp of a clue about my Odyssey, bless your heart*

Here’s the thing, folks.  Or folk.  Person.  You know who you are.  This Odyssey of Love is so not a vacation.  Duh. It is my life.  The same way that the life Chuck and I led on the road was not a vacation;  it was how we lived.  Now it is how I live.  I’m doing it on a wing and a prayer because it is what I need to do.  And in these last 4 years since Chuck’s death, I’ve been building a foundation that will, I say hopefully and prayerfully, take me into the next part of my life with some semblance of financial security.

I do, of course, fully realize that there are people in life, those who exist to tear others down, who cannot see beyond what they were taught to see.  They do not, and cannot, envision a life lived simply, with few accumulated material possessions, a life that doesn’t conform to a narrow-eyed version of the precepts with which they were raised.  Where, you know, people matter more than things and life is a continually unfolding mystery on a daily basis.

I was raised to look beyond my own vision, to look at possibilities, to use my imagination as a vehicle for what could be instead of what is.  That is the very thing that allowed me to say yes to Chuck when he suggested selling it all and going out on the road together.  Individually, we didn’t care to fit into the so-called norm.  Together we forged a life beyond what we could see and, in the process, we found others of similar thinking, and I thank god for it.

Chuck’s death blew my world into smithereens.  I took what I’d learned in our 4 years on the road, I took what I’d been taught about having imagination and vision, and I bought a trailer and stepped way outside my comfort zone, choosing to live a gypsy life.  It isn’t always easy, by any means, but in my thinking, it’s no more difficult than living in an apartment somewhere.  And I’ll continue living it until I’m done living it.

Vacation?  Jesus, I’d love to take one.

Book one for me, won’t you?

*more response blogs, as I call them, coming soon to a computer near you*

#thankyouforignorantpeoplewhogivemewritingmaterial

 

 

Sigh…(what people say)….

A friend of long standing, now a former friend for various reasons, recently accused me of dragging my good husband’s name around.  It is quite shameful, she stated.

Followed with I know things about Chuck, indiscretions (regarding women) but it would be unkind to say things about the dead, plus you wouldn’t believe me.

You think?

I only mention this because I guess I’m still floored when people get viscious to suit their own needs, and passively-aggressively attack Chuck, through me.   And, also, because I’m  a storyteller and such obvious dribble is rich in the telling.

Honestly, reading what she wrote immediately struck me as humorous.  I’m stronger now, 4 years later, than I was when a close family member threw similar ugly words at me, not realizing that she really wasn’t maligning me, but a person she claimed to love.  Similar to this latest attempt.

4 years ago, the ugly words sent me to my knees and it took me years to deal with the trauma.  Not the words that were said, because I knew them not to be true (as I know these words not to be true), but because, back then, days after his death, I was raw and on the floor with grief and I allowed her words to get into my bones for a brief second and I thought are those words trueDid I not truly know the man I was married to for 24 years? Because he couldn’t have been who she described, and be the man I  knew.  There was a clanging dissonance between those two images.  The words, by themselves, weren’t what caused trauma for me.  What caused the trauma was the idea that I’d even allowed a nanosecond of doubt, as a result of her words, to creep in, and that made me feel as if I’d betrayed Chuck, which devastated me.

It’s funny, really, how people, claiming to love a person who is now dead, while claiming that of course they’d never slander the dead….do that very thing, in hopes of destroying the one left alive.   Whoa.  Fucked up humans, right?

I guess I didn’t realize the strength that now resides in my bones and my heart and soul, since Chuck’s death.  These latest words only made me shake my head that this person, who knew of the first circumstance, couldn’t even be original;  instead, knowing my reaction the first time, she made an attempt to piggyback, hoping for….I don’t know…that I’d be destroyed once again.

All it did was make me realize my present day strength.  And more, it made me realize the ugliness that can exist in a person’s soul when envy and jealousy take over.   It made me realize that my mom was right, years ago, when she taught me to always consider the source when ugly words get thrown.

Oh, also…that part about dragging my husband’s name around?  I’m not quite certain what was meant by that.  Am I dragging his name through the mud, as she attempted to do?  Besmirch his reputation, as she’s trying to do?

Each day, as I travel this Odyssey, I honor Chuck’s name and I honor the legacy of love that he left behind, not just for me, but for so many others, and there is nothing about that that suggests dragging.  The love story that Chuck and I had is my story, one he left with me.  I own it.

And to those who would say otherwise, my response is the same as it was to the woman who accused me of the same thing early on…

Find your own damn love story.

*Names purposefully left out of this blog.  The names/relationships are un-necessary*